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The trouble with temporary: Impacts and pitfalls of a meanwhile community garden in Wythenshawe, South Manchester

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The Macmillan community garden polytunnel.

This paper focuses on research conducted at a community garden in Wythenshawe, established by Real Food Wythenshawe as an example of a ‘meanwhile’ or temporary growing site for people affected by cancer.

By Rebecca St. Clair, Michael Hardman, Richard P. Armitage and Graeme Sherriff
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Cambridge University Press
June 6, 2017

Abstract:

The rise of Urban Agriculture projects across the UK has led to a surge of interest in their efficacy and resulting social impacts. Real Food Wythenshawe is a Lottery-funded urban food project in the UK that aims to teach the population of Wythenshawe to grow their own food and to cook from scratch. The area, popularly referred to as ‘Europe’s largest council estate’, suffers from high levels of deprivation and has been described as a ‘food desert’ due to a perceived lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables (Small World Consulting, 2013). In order to encourage Wythenshawe residents to grow their own food and to increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables, Real Food Wythenshawe aims to transform unused areas of land into growing spaces, such as allotments and community gardens.

This paper focuses on research conducted at a community garden in Wythenshawe, established by Real Food Wythenshawe as an example of a ‘meanwhile’ or temporary growing site for people affected by cancer. The research investigated the impact of the growing activities on community garden participants through a series of observations and interviews. The findings suggest that the benefits of the space were multiple and diverse, ranging from increased growing knowledge to therapeutic effects, while there has been minimal effect on participants’ dietary behavior. The organization of the community garden also raises questions over some of the practicalities of temporary urban growing sites and highlights the tensions that can arise between small community growing groups and larger institutions with control over land use. These findings add to a growing body of research that considers the value of growing in the city and reflects on the role of community gardening in deprived urban areas of the UK.

Read the complete article here.